Kayode Ibukunoluwa-Micah

Different tasks and job functions demand a varying degree of concentration and attention, to achieve organizational goals and individuals’ performance objectives, employees must be properly focused and avoid unnecessary distraction that could take their focus off the pie. Distraction, as we know, is a thief of time and a negative consequence of workers’ inability to have the mastery of self and their workspaces.

Researches on employee performances have attributed task-performance-errors; “failure to recall work procedure, lapses in memory, dislike for the job, inability in meeting deadlines, negative emotion resulting from stress and the feelings of incompetence to workplace distraction. In fact, according to a survey by Udemy, 3 out of 4 workers admitted that they felt distracted when on the job. In the survey for Business in 2018, Udemy found that about 58% respondents said they were affected by distraction at the workplace while 20% of participants said their career advancement and inability to attain their full potentials could be attributed to workplace distraction.

The seriousness attached to workplace interference will be better appreciated when monetized and viewed from the perspective of attendance consequences for the organization and the psychological loss of worth to the serious employee who feels that his or her inability to deliver on time and properly meet deadlines was due to factors outside his or her control.

Just imagine a pilot who got distracted while flying a plane, or a surgeon in the middle of a surgical operation who was unintentionally disrupted and his procedure interrupted with.  


For the purpose of this article, workplace distraction will be defined as “The suspension of one stream of work prior to completion, with the intent of returning to and completing the original stream of work” Boehm-Davis, Deborah A. Remington and Roger (2009).


Time according to a popular maxim is money hence any time wasted on the job should be considered a loss of valuable organization’s resources and the result that could have been attained if such time was put to judicious uses.

Unnecessary interference in work processes could breed negative consequences especially as these distractions are seen as a disruption in the workers’ ability to remain focused on the job and be committed to assigned tasks. The following are some of the likely effects of workplace distractions.

Failure to deliver on assigned task

Organizational processes are customer oriented, customers’ needs are time-bound hence the work process should be structured to meet these needs in a timely manner. To achieve this, work is divided into various tasks and performed by an individual, or a group of workers, when a team member is distracted this will ultimately affect the team’s ability to deliver on an assigned task. Performance delay due to distraction could lead to loss of the customer, goodwill and organizational reputation.

Marking the time syndrome

Teamwork is a key factor to achieving organizational success, however, if not properly monitored you could have a team member who pretends to be working but was only engaged in office loitering without any meaningful contribution to teamwork. Such individuals are distracters that should be managed otherwise they will hinder others and slow down the work process.

Performance Error

Performance is seen as the level of involvement by the worker that produces an output adjudged as good or poor. Individuals’ Performances are subject to many factors such as the level of skills, past experiences, rate of engagement and dedication. When the required skill set is available it is expected that work outputs should turn out well. However, workplace interference can be an encumbrance to achieving a great result. Performance error and error in output would alter the final product.

Waste of Organization’s Resources

When resources are re-assigned to correcting performance errors or when such products or services are rejected by the end-users; the financial or resource implication could be massive and sometimes causes the organizational a colossal lost.

Workplace distraction could breed attention diversion and when this happen organizations’ resources which ought to be used profitably will end up being to wasteful use.

Transferred Aggression

Anger, frustration, and disappointment could arise as a result of the inability of a worker to live up to expectation and meet set target, consequently this could result unto poor score during performance appraisal or warning and sometimes outright sack which can get so much of the worker to the extent of transferring such anger to colleagues and the organization as a whole.

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